The desire for outdoor leisure has meant an almost barren summer for Madrid’s theaters, both for shows and for the public. “Worse than 2020 […] It had not been so empty for twenty-some years, “says Jesús Cimarro, president of the Association of Producers and Theaters of Madrid (APTEM). Between the traditional exodus of August and the desire for the terrace of this second year COVID, the performing arts have After a particularly frugal low season that does not leave much room for maneuver: if full capacity is not allowed again with autumn, it will be difficult to stay, warn.
Culture demands 100% capacity and COVID passport so as not to disappear
Also the music rooms have had a bad time. “The public has fled Madrid”, regrets Javier Olmedo, manager of La Noche en Vivo, which brings together more than 50 concert halls in the capital. “Almost 40% had not reopened since March of last year.” Now “it has not only been the holiday destinations, but the terraces. We have found a cultural and live music summer almost to zero”, he adds.
If Madrid has 60 theaters, in the two summer months they have never been open more than six or eight, says Cimarro. “Before the pandemic, practically all of them remained open, from the small to the large format,” recalls the producer, responsible for the Bellas Artes and La Latina theaters. So, this year more than ever, it’s time to make up for the very skinny cows with new releases. Waiting for the stalls to overflow. “We work to reach 100% of the capacity, with all the protocols: mask, staggered entrance, hydroalcoholic gel; but with full capacity. It does not make sense that trains, buses, subways and airplanes go to 100% and in the theater or in the cinema, where there are no infections, do not be, “he announces.
The return of productions that were no longer represented in the middle of the campaign and, above all, the return of musicals, is the main asset. “The Lion King is the flagship,” says Cimarro, who points out that between this month and next month, up to eight such productions will be released. The rest of the spaces begin to function from this week. “70% of the population is vaccinated, so there is more security and tranquility […] “Yes [la Comunidad de Madrid] it does not allow us 100% capacity, you will have to explain why, “he insists.
Lost (musical) generation
One of the side effects of the year and a half of the pandemic is that young musicians have had nowhere to rehearse or struggle live, says Javier Olmedo. “The new bands that have not been able to play are going to have it very difficult, they are going to program safer and more familiar things”. Check it out: if the normal annual schedule was about 17,000 concerts, now they stay at “6,000 or 7,000”, which are reserved for proven bands. “Having two or three years to uncles like that, is that they leave it”, foresees. Also, novice audiences have started going to concerts either. “I am afraid of new audiences, those who did not start by age. We can lose a generation, between the bottles and Netflix,” he fears.
If the theaters have had a bad time, the music halls are in the ICU. “Yes or yes we need to expand capacity and try to get people to stand up,” urges Olmedo, who points out that current conditions, of limiting entry to half, means in practice not exceeding 30%, because separating the customers by tables means giving up even more space. “What the halls are doing so far, the ones they have been able to, is to wink and remove workers and artists from the ERTE”, he continues, and puts figures: “Of the 34,000 to 36,000 who perform in theaters, [la mayoría] they don’t go to festivals or big venues. They are totally at zero income. So we are extremely worried, we do not know when conditions will change or when we will be able to endure, “he advances.
The problems are compounded by the very nature of the business. Scheduling actions is “extremely difficult”, when “the measures that are going to be in place at all times” are unknown. “The most normal thing is that the numbers do not come out for the room or the promoter or the artist or anyone,” he laments. The evolution of the coronavirus in the coming weeks and the possible easing of the restrictive measures are, thus, fundamental, he thinks: “There is not much more that can be done. Savings have already been thrown away, loans have already been requested and the very strong aid that They promised themselves they have not arrived. These couple of months are going to be vital for the cultural fabric. ”